Losing a Wonderful Friend - Gary Smalley with the Lord

 Last night, my friend of decades, my co-author, and the person our two girls called, "Uncle Gary," went home to be with the Lord. I had the honor of heading to Houston two weeks ago - with our oldest Kari - named after Gary and Norma's daughter, Kari - and we were incredibly blessed to get to sit with Gary and Norma. To share some old stories. To pray with them and for them. To hug Gary and say goodbye. 

Our heart and prayers and love go out to Norma, Kari, Greg, and Michael Smalley and their families.

I don't know any details. I got off a plane in Chicago at 1pm last night and there were a dozen messages on my phone when I turned it on. All from people who do Facebook. I don't. All were filled with joy for Gary not having to be so sick anymore, and his getting to be with the Lord. Yet sadness too for his family and for so many friends that will not have Gary's smile and encouragement and love to bless them. Until we join him. 

We have lost an incredible champion for marriage and family. If there were a Mt. Rushmore for the top people on the planet who have served and walked well with couples and families for Christ - I believe with all my heart Gary would be chiselled in. His faith and speaking and writing and modeling love for his own family changed our family, and THOUSANDS more families as well. And his willingness to be "real" and share stories of times he was less than perfect (in a way that made you laugh and nod your head at the same time) was a model for authenticity for the rest of us who aren't perfect. 

I miss my friend. I grieve for Norma and Kari and Greg and Michael. Gary's own father was a merchant marine who was rarely at home. Gary "reversed the curse" and loved his Lord, and his family, and so many other families well. 

And Gary's ministry continues. All three of his children are changing lives and marriages across the country - and like Gary - that starts with their loving their own families with God's love first. And now they'll love on Norma even more, as well. 

Gary and I wrote a book together called, The Blessing. I just read Jim Daley's post about Gary's passing. In it, Greg Smalley shared about his Dad. In the moments before Gary went to be with the Lord, Greg wrote, "a "blessing" in scripture was read over him." It was, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you."

While I'm not sure if all the verses of that wonderful Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 were read, I picture the last verse being read to Gary by Jesus - in that next moment when he joined Him.

"The Lord TURN (italics mine) His face upon you, and give you peace."

Well done faithful husband, father, friend, minister, speaker, writer and servant of Jesus. 

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